"Wow, I won't know anyone in the entire city." I was preparing for my move to New York City from Seattle and felt uneasy about my upcoming life change. The opportunity to pursue new business was exciting, but the idea of starting with no network was overwhelming.
Six months later, I had a network of friends and colleagues. New York City was starting to feel like home. Three years later, I left New York City in search of a new home. I tested out Madrid, Romania, Tokyo, and Tel Aviv before moving to Seoul, each time not knowing a soul in the vicinity -- or oftentimes, continent.
It can be scary to move to a new city. A move doesn't just mean a new apartment, but also a new job, and even new friends. It's no wonder many people consider a move to be one of their most stressful life events. Whether you're making a permanent move or traveling for business, here's how you can network and start over in a new city.
1. Ask friends to introduce you to their colleagues and network.
You might not have friends in a new city, but chances are someone on your social media channels does. Whenever I'm headed to a new city, I post a status to Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter reading "I'm moving to [city] and don't know many people. Does anyone have any friends or colleagues interested in [industry] you could introduce me to?" This message has helped me make friends and contacts all over the globe.
Your existing network and friends likely have other like-minded friends who you'll hit it off with and can help you settle in a new place. A warm introduction to a potential contact usually works much better than a cold email to someone you don't know. Posting on Facebook took me five minutes but the payoff has been invaluable friends and colleagues.
2. Attend networking events within your industry alone.
I've made a number of great friends and contacts by flying solo at networking events in my new city. Heading to an event where you don't know anyone can feel intimidating, but it's a great way to put yourself out there and meet other interesting people in your zip code.
Though it can be challenging, you can break the ice by walking up to someone and saying "Hi, my name is [name] and I'm new to [city]. What brought you to this event?" Often times, when you go to an event with friends or colleagues, you end up talking to them the majority of the night, missing out on new connections.
And don't give up. It takes time to make friends. Sometimes you'll have to go through 50 people before you really hit it off with one.
3. Look for people in your new city, from your old city.
When I moved to New York City, there were many Seattleites who had relocated to the Big Apple as well. A friend created a group called "The Emerald Apple." I attended an event not knowing anyone, but that's where I ended up meeting some of my closest New York City friends. Having something in common with the other attendees gave us something to talk about and build a friendship upon. Finding common ground can help you establish new contacts and make new friendships.
4. If all else fails, tell everyone you don't have friends.
When I go to a new city I'm very transparent that I have very few friends. After I've come forward with my honesty, I've experienced many people kindly taking me under their wing and introducing me to their friends.
When I was apartment hunting in New York City I met a number of people who were great, but their apartment wasn't the right fit. I told them that I didn't know anyone in the city yet and asked them if they knew of any fun events happening. From this initial interaction, I then got invited to parties and city happenings.
No one can read your mind or can tell you're new. Ask for help and you'll be shocked to see how many people are willing to point you in the right direction of events, contacts, and even new friends.
Many people can relate to starting over in a new city with no friends and many are eager to help you. And when you meet someone new to your city, repay the favor by introducing to them to your friend group and network. Starting over can feel overwhelming, but having a few contacts to show you the ropes of your new locale can make the move all the more enjoyable.